Breaking News!: Rich People Are Lame
No this is not the first, Gwyneth-related post, (and yes, she is my “white whale”) I was inspired by this link my sister sent me today, when we were idly G-chatting about bullshit, to discuss why Gwyneth Paltrow and her wealthy peers makes Broke-Ass-itude so appealing.
Having been a long time disgustee of Gwyneth’s brand of self-satisfied entitlement, I was pleased to see that I was not alone. Since the launch of the stickily-named 'œGOOP', her 'œlifestyle' newsletter , criticism of her snooty condescension has been rampant.
While it could be easy to write her off as just another harmlessly out of touch child of New York privilege, GP’s seemingly blithe indifference to the realities of life faced by 90% of the inhabitants of her city makes her smug elitism both offensive and irresponsible. You would think that a woman who smeared paint on her face, donned an 'œethnic' neckpiece and stared beatifically out at the world just above the words I AM AFRICAN would be a little less shameless about her total and utter disregard for those of us who didn’t coast through life on our dad’s St.Elsewhere money, but you’d be wrong. Taken to task for the glib, lordly advice on GOOP, Gwyneth graciously replied 'œFuck the haters'I am who I am. I can’t pretend to be somebody who makes $25,000 a year.' Perish the thought. But you could at least pretend to have some respect for the people who do.
Several years ago I read an interview with Gwyneth that stoked the fires of my raging dislike. Prior to that she was just some lady who was only in bad movies (Fine. I liked Sliding Doors) with shiny yellow hair and who appeared to smell like insanely expensive night cream. This interview however, was intended to help me get to know the 'œreal' Gwyneth, so a segment of the interview was devoted to talking about her 'œcrazy schedule' and the whirlwind life that a person who is married to Coldplay and has two children by him inevitably lead. When asked to describe a typical day, she rattled off a list of activities that sounded to me like a vacation schedule:
Wake up, breakfast with the family, a nice long yoga class, a little shopping, lunch with a friend, home with the kids again and then a restaurant dinner with her husband.
'œPretty glamorous, huh?,' she added smugly, attempting sarcasm. She was, ostensibly, deluded enough to believe that these activities were folksy and typical; the better to convince us yokels of her humanity. Actually,that is pretty glamorous. Unless of course, I missed the part of the interview where she talked about waking up at 6 am, showering, getting the kids fed, dressed and packed up for the public school she drives them to on the way to her thankless 9-5 job.
A couple of weeks ago around 9 o’clock, my boyfriend and I were walking by a building in the West Village with an amazing roof garden you could see from the street. There was clearly something going on inside and we decided to check it out. A headset-wearing bouncer asked us if we were there “for the event” to which we nodded. He led us inside. What we found in the insanely beautiful space, was a very high-end dinner/auction for some foundation to support the citizens of a particularly indigent part of South America. We hung out in the back drinking free drinks from the bar and watching as Donna Karan, Christie Brinkley, Padma Lakshmi and Russell Simmons made urgent pleas about how important it is to donate. From where my boyfriend and I were hiding standing, we could see the attendees paddles going up as they paid astronomical amounts of money for absurd items: $10,000 for a day of shopping and lunch with Donna Karan, $8,000 for a painting done by one of the South American children (how much of that will he and his family see?) and so on and so forth. I felt like climbing on stage, talking about my student loan debt and seeing if anyone in the crowd wanted to “sponsor” me.
It reminded me a little bit of Gwyneth. 'œMy life is good because I’m not passive about it' Gwyneth writes on GOOPs home page. Actually, your life is good because your dad was rich. And now you’re rich. And your kid’s lives will be good not because they are good people, or nice people, but because their parents are rich. Charity events like this are meant to support “good causes” but I suspect are meant to assuage feelings of obliviousness among the very rich. Gwyneth, speaking as she does about people less financially secure than herself outs herself as a spoiled milquetoast-bohemian princess woefully out-of touch with reality.
As glamorous as the event was– gorgeous candles, flowers, fancy table settings, gift bags– the predominant feeling was one of utter pretense. The guests all seemed most interested in impressing each other with their bids during the auction portion, but would turn chatty, fidgety and utterly uninterested anytime anyone would talk about the actual cause they were there to support. It didn’t seem like a gathering of friends or like minded people, but more like a group of fake, competitive frenemies, where everyone pretends to like each other but is secretly just waiting to see who gets too wasted and makes an ass of themselves.
After about two hours of free booze,wandering around the building and listening to millionaires pat themselves on the back my boyfriend and I headed home across the river to Brooklyn. As we sat silently in the cab , crossing the Manhattan bridge my boyfriend turned to me.
“I can’t believe how fucking boring that party was, even with all that money. If that’s what being rich is like I’ll stay broke forever.”